Tag Archives: journalism

Can Andrew Sullivan make post-industrial journalism pay?

The state of journalism as described by the Tow authors — media theorist Clay Shirky, journalism professor Chris Anderson and Tow Center head Emily Bell — is a landscape where the major media entities in virtually every field are being disrupted and unbundled, and where smaller players targeted at specific niches stand the best odds of success. It’s an almost Darwinian view of the industry, with slow-moving giants who are gradually replaced by more nimble and flexible species. And it’s also a more personal and human-sized approach, one that Sullivan clearly sympathizes with:

“We believe in a bottom-up Internet, which allows a thousand flowers to bloom, rather than a corporate-dominated web where the promise of a free space becomes co-opted by large and powerful institutions and intrusive advertising algorithms.”

The model Sullivan is banking on — which features a $19.99-per-year subscription, free incoming links from blogs and social media, as well as a “pay whatever you want” donation option — is similar in many ways to the freemium or membership models other sites have staked their future on, including Mike Masnick’s tech-opinion and analysis site Techdirt and Josh Marshall’s political news and opinion network Talking Points Memo. But while those sites are offering extra features for members (such as member-only discussion forums and access to extra content, etc.) Sullivan says non-paying readers who merely follow links to his content will get exactly the same thing paying readers do.

via gigaom.com

I love his point about the ‘free media’ we consume coming with the invisible pricetag of institutional/corporate perspective. It’s sad to see how ‘revolutionary’ it appears to ask people to pay for excellent content.

Daniel Ellsberg: Crowd Funding the Right to Know

“A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” — Judge Murray Gurfein, Pentagon Papers case, June 17, 1971

When a government becomes invisible, it becomes unaccountable. To expose its lies, errors, and illegal acts is not treason, it is a moral responsibility. Leaks become the lifeblood of the Republic.

Whatever one’s opinion of WikiLeaks, every American should be offended that two elected officials, merely by putting pressure on corporations, could financially strangle necessary expression without ever going to court. What happened to WikiLeaks is completely unacceptable in a democracy that values free speech and due process.

via huffingtonpost.com

These people are doing great work. In an era of unparalleled person-to-person communication, it’s simply unacceptable that much of our government is invisible to the average person.

Why Rupert Murdoch’s bold bet on The Daily

The Daily was both a bold experiment and doomed from the start. It was bold from the point of view of a major media empire with little or no understanding of the web or mobile, and a lot of other media companies without Rupert Murdoch’s deep pockets were watching it closely to see whether they should jump, and if so how to proceed. But then many of the lessons that could be learned should have been obvious even before The Daily launched: don’t ignore the web, don’t make your content platform-specific (unless it is unique), and don’t put a paywall around something no one has ever seen before.

via gigaom.com

When armies become media: Israel live-blogs and tweets an attack on Hamas — Tech News and Analysis

For decades — perhaps even centuries — journalists have been the primary witnesses to and chroniclers of war, piecing together news reports from eyewitnesses and military briefings. But what if the armies or military forces who were engaged in a conflict took on the role of publishers themselves, distributing their own live reports while the battle was being fought? That idea is no longer science fiction: it became reality when the Israeli Defense Forces started live-blogging and live-tweeting an attack on Hamas guerillas in the Gaza strip and uploading video of their rocket blasts to YouTube.

Social media, once thought of as a tool for bored nerds and marketing gurus, has taken on a whole new role it seems — one that could stand to change the face of modern warfare forever. As BuzzFeed notes in its round-up of Twitter posts from the Israeli army (a sentence I never would have imagined typing even a few years ago), the IDF actually warned Hamas guerillas not to show themselves on the Gaza strip or risk being killed in the attacks that began Wednesday morning, and the official Hamas account responded:

In the hours that followed, videos of rocket attacks on Hamas strongholds were uploaded to YouTube, and the IDF blog carried a minute-by-minute breakdown of what was happening — how many Hamas rockets it intercepted, a strike by the Israeli Navy, and so on. It looked very much like the New York Times live-blog The Lede, except that it was being published by a military force: the front of the website even looks like a traditional news blog or breaking news site, complete with the usual social-media buttons for sharing content on Twitter, Facebook and other networks.

via gigaom.com

Journalism and the truth: More complicated than it has ever been — Tech News and Analysis

Clay Shirky said that the whole notion of “objectivity” was something the media came up with in the 1950s and ’60s in order to appeal to a mass audience (and thereby appeal to advertisers), and that it serves no useful purpose any more.

One obvious outcome of what the Poynter panel was discussing is that defining the truth is no longer something that is done by professional journalists in isolation, but something that only emerges over time, through a process that involves both journalists and what Jay Rosen has called “the people formerly known as the audience.” Which is why I’ve argued that fact-checking of all kinds — both specific facts and larger questions of truth — is something that is best done in public. In a sense it has always been that way, it’s just easier to see now while it’s actually happening.

Arriving at the truth may be a lot more complicated than it used to be, because there are more moving parts and more sources than ever, but in the end it is probably closer to the real thing than what our traditional media gatekeepers have gotten used to providing in the past.

via gigaom.com

Why the NYT-Flipboard deal is a smart move via @om

For the first time, subscribers will be able to access Times content via something other than the NYT’s own site or apps. It may not be a huge revenue generator (at least not in the short term), but it is still an encouraging sign of a traditional media player trying to adapt to a new model.

Starting this Thursday, the Times will provide all of its content — articles, videos, photo slideshows and blog posts — to subscribers who use Flipboard, while non-subscribers will get a free sample of certain articles. Denise Warren, who runs the NYT’s website, said that the deal made sense for the newspaper because it is promoting digital subscriptions, and an analysis of its readership showed that 20 percent of the paper’s subscribers use third-party apps like Flipboard to consume content. Said Warren:

We realized that we have an opportunity to enable this kind of access for paying subscribers, and we thought it was something we ought to try and see how users react to it.

via gigaom.com

“Content Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink” via @parislemon

The problem with the content rush is twofold. First, no one — and I mean no one — can possibly be an expert in all the things they’re attempting to cover. Good writers in the space may know one company inside and out. Great writers may know two. The very best may know enough about three or four companies/topics to be an authoritative writer on them. 

And yet, we often see bloggers writing 7 posts a day about 7 different companies and/or topics. And people read these stories as if they’re definitive posts full of insightful information. Ha. Most of them are bullshit. 

Second, because the emphasis is on speed, even if a writer does know a lot about a company/topic, that takes a backseat. Writing a bland story with a few facts in 5 minutes is valued much higher than writing a good story in an hour. And that’s valued much higher than writing a great story over the period of a few days or god-forbid, weeks.

I hear over and over again things like, “did you read that post on FILL-IN-THE-BLANK-BLOG? — Interesting, huh?” No, it wasn’t interesting, it was bullshit. That author had no fucking idea what they were talking about. They probably wrote it in 20 minutes and never thought about it again. If you asked the author about it now, they probably wouldn’t even remember half of what they wrote. 

Just because a writer’s words appear on a popular site, people seem to think they are sterling bastions of sacred information. They’re not. They’re human beings that may not even know as much about a topic as you do. Whatever they do know, they probably know from reading one or two other posts by another writer who learned about the topic from reading one or two other posts.

Bloggers informing bloggers all the way down.

You cannot be an authority on 20 different topics. You just can’t. But people are trying to convey that they are. And there’s often a perception that they are. And this horribly broken system works from the perspective of the pageview machine.

Unfortunately, I ultimately agree with Siegler. Where he sees the ‘pageview machine’ as the culprit, I would point the finger to the erosion of traditional journalistic practices – like sourcing, forced disclosure of financial connections, and peer editing/review.

What’s even more alarming, is these trends seem equally as applicable to the political sphere – a stern focus on the lowest commopn denominator, the quick soundbyte, the headlines-grabbing phrase that really conveys very little about policy or a substantial thought process.

But I’m more optimistic – I think the trend he’s referring to is akin to what happens with tabloids; they will always be there, nagging your eye at the supermarket checkout line, but over time, people have learned easily enough not to trust the sensational. I agree that the line in blogging is often blurred, far moreso than the line between true journalism and yellow journalism, but I think eventually the market will begin to favor trustworthy content and sourcing as the most newsworthy trait any publication can have.

The Wall Street Journal is rethinking distribution of its content…on Facebook

With WSJ Social, the Journal is purposely “navigating the content within the app around people,” Baratz told me, and making “every user an editor”; the app, in large part, she says, is about “elevating the role of people as curators of content.” The end result: “When you walk into the app, you have this very curated publication,” Baratz says — one that could, if done right, provide users with a nice mix of personalization and serendipity.

There’s a competitive element to the app, as well. WSJ Social ranks each of the app’s user-editors on a leaderboard according to the number of people that have added those editors to their editor lists. The plan is to reward top editors over time — the reward after the first month being, potentially, a WSJ stipple portrait of the winners. “We really want to show that it’s not a game,” Baratz says. “We really think that these people are curators,” doing important distributive work that, at scale, could prove immensely valuable to the WSJ — and prizes are meant to acknowledge that.

Paywall numbers for the NYT

The overall news from the New York Times Co.’s quarterly earnings report this week wasn’t good — net income is down 57 percent from a year ago — but there was one silver lining for online paid-content advocates: More than 100,000 people have begun paying for the Times’ website since it began charging for access last month.

100,000 doesn’t sound that high to me… and, 57% sounds pretty terrible also.

Another online milestone for the Pulitzer Prize

In the winner’s circle again is ProPublica, which took home its second Pulitzer this year. But unlike the nonprofit’s last prize, which was for a story published in The New York Times Magazine, this year’s prize (for reporters Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein) was for work that didn’t move through a partner newspaper (although they did partner with radio’s Planet Money and This American Life). As ProPublica chief Paul Steiger wrote, “This year’s Prize is the first for a group of stories not published in print.”

Great job, internets!